President Donald Trump’s administration is seeking to “vastly expand offshore drilling” in U.S. coastal waters to turn America into an energy “superpower,” Bloomberg reports. The administration’s proposal, to be released Thursday, will open up waters off the coast of California and along the East Coast in places where energy development has been restricted or outright banned.
According to Bloomberg, the Department of the Interior will propose 47 possible auctions of drilling rights in more than 90 percent of the U.S. outer continental shelf. The new policy is part of a new five-year schedule for selling offshore oil leases from 2019 to 2024 to replace the Obama administration’s 2017-to-2022 plan.
“Under President Trump, we are going to become the strongest energy superpower this world has ever known,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters.
This new proposal comes one week after the Interior Department released for comment a proposal to roll back several drilling regulations created in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said these regulations create an “unnecessary burden” on the energy industry and that removing them could save $228 million over 10 years.
The sweeping deregulation efforts are receiving criticism from environmental activists and politicians in coastal states near proposed drilling areas.
“The administration’s backward-looking approach puts oil and gas profits first — and will place our coastal communities and all they support at risk of the next BP-style disaster,” said Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh. “We’ll stand with leaders of vision, business owners and fishing families on every coast to protect our oceans and shores.”
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is among those opposed to deregulation. Nelson declared his intention Wednesday to introduce a resolution in Congress to stop the planned deregulation of offshore drilling areas.
“The BP spill devastated my state’s economy and 11 people lost their lives,” Nelson said. “That’s why I plan to subject this misguided rule to the Congressional Review Act.”
Republicans in Congress have liberally used the Congressional Review Act to overturn several Obama-era regulations. Under the law, Nelson can introduce legislation to overturn the Department of the Interior’s new policy with majority votes from both houses of Congress.
“I hope the public understands that and starts registering some complaints, and I hope that during that time every Floridian remembers what happened to us when the beaches of Pensacola beach were blackened with tar and oil and we lost a whole season of our guests, our tourists who come to this extraordinary state of natural environment, the beautiful Florida beaches,” Nelson said.
“I hope that every Floridian will remember, whether you were a hotelier, restaurateur, whether you are the dry cleaners, whether you had the taxi services, when you got hit in your pocketbook, I hope that every American who rightly has an interest in protecting our beaches, our oceans, our marine life, decides to write in and complain to Secretary Zinke exactly what he’s putting at risk with this proposal.”
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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